Residents who live along San Juan Creek Road flooded City Council chambers Tuesday to make sure city leaders know they don’t want the street extended any farther.
There is no plan to push San Juan Creek Road through, but an extension does show up on the Orange County master plan for major highways and the city’s own general plan for development, said Councilwoman Laura Freese.
As one of Freese’s last actions, she asked fellow council members to join her in reaffirming the city’s commitment to preserve the end of San Juan Creek Road as is. But she also suggested the city ask the county to remove a future extension from its plans.
Mayor Larry Kramer expressed concerns that if the county entertains the fate of San Juan Creek Road, it may encourage the widening of other roads, such as Ortega Highway, currently planned for only four lanes.
“I’m looking at the unintended consequences of this,” Kramer said. “I prefer to leave this dog lie. I don’t think we’re going to gain what we’d like to gain under this.”
While most residents agreed they didn’t want to stir up more trouble at the county level, they definitely wanted to affirm their opposition to any attempts to change the status quo at the eastern end of the road.
“San Juan Capistrano is going to become another Laguna Niguel. Do we really want that?” asked resident Ken Callan. He offered to buy a city easement in the area to make it harder for anyone to build out the road.
Councilman Sam Allevato said the only thing on the other side is the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, which the city bought and annexed into the city in part to protect the open space/rural atmosphere of that part of town.
But some feared a future access road could become a shortcut to the future extension of La Pata Avenue.
Resident Dusty Otero was in the minority, wanting to see an extension of the road.
“I think it’s time to open it up. Kick the dog,” he said. “Things change. It’s 2012. I say open it up.”
The council passed Freese’s suggestion to oppose extending San Juan Creek Road and vowed not to connect it to the new Reata Park and Event Center. It also decided to test the waters at the county without specifically mentioning San Juan Creek Road.
Councilman Derek Reeve said with future development outside the city and even the fairly new high school, he expects pressure will someday come to build out San Juan Creek Road.
“That would devastate those neighborhoods,” he said.
Councilman Sam Allevato said ultimately, it's the city that controls the purse strings to build the road. So the only way it would really happen is if a majority of the City Council wanted it.
"Unless you get three people up here who want it, it’s not going to go through," he said to much applause.